The bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in November 1963, and referred to the Rules Committee, whose chairman, Howard W.Smith, a Democrat and avid segregationist from Virginia, indicated his intention to keep the bill bottled up indefinitely. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, changed the political situation.They also added authorization for the Attorney General to file lawsuits to protect individuals against the deprivation of any rights secured by the Constitution or U. Civil rights organizations pressed hard for this provision because it could be used to protect peaceful protesters and black voters from police brutality and suppression of free speech rights.
To avert the humiliation of a successful discharge petition, Chairman Smith relented and allowed the bill to pass through the Rules Committee. Both men had come to hear the Senate debate on the bill.
The legislation had been proposed by President John F.
Kennedy in June 1963, but opposed by filibuster in the Senate. Johnson pushed the bill forward, which in its final form was passed in the U. Congress by a Senate vote of 73-27 and House vote of 289-126 (70%-30%).
This led to several Republican Congressmen drafting a compromise bill to be considered.
On June 19, the president sent his bill to Congress as it was originally written, saying legislative action was "imperative".